'Nasaan ang anak mo?'
MANILA, Philippines — "Nasaan ang anak mo?" (Where is your daughter?”) The man with a crew cut asked Lolita Robinas. He points a gun at her as she peeked through her window.
There were 4 of them. They were looking for Lenny, Nanay Lolit's only daughter, who happened to be a youth activist.
They forced Nanay Lolit to open the door, pushed her aside, and searched the whole house. They didn't find Lenny.
The men asked who was living next door. Nanay Lolit's son, Romulus, his wife and two daughters.
Again, they barge in. Again, they look for Lenny. Again, they find nothing.
But they take Mulong, instead. As collateral, perhaps. Or ransom?
Mulong was taken by the 4 men, who came at midnight. That was the last time Nanay Lolit saw her youngest son, over 9 years ago.
Nanay Lolit also remembers their good times together. Every morning, just as the sun rises, Mulong would shake her window to wake her up. It’s the same window where the man with a crew cut pointed a gun at Nanay Lolit.
Mulong would knock on Nanay Lolit’s door, come in, and make coffee for them. It’s the same door where the 4 armed men barged in, push Nanay Lolit aside, and look for Lenny.
He was such a sweet boy, she says.
At night he would turn on the videoke and he would sing to his mother, the Sharon Cuneta classic “Kung Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko” (When my hair turns gray).
He would sing, “Ang nakalipas ay ibabalik natin, ipaaalala ko sa ‘yo…” (We’ll bring back the past, I will make you remember). Then, he'd embrace her and give her a buss on her forehead.
But where is her son? Nanay Lolit if Mulong still has her in his thoughts. All she has now are memories. She hopes he is still alive and that they will once again be reunited.
She says she will keep on searching for her son as long as she lives.
It’s sometime in May when they celebrate his mother’s special day. But Erloreb Mendez does not know the exact date, whether it’s her mother’s birthday or it’s Mother’s Day. Blame it on his mother’s secret life or on Nooky’s “memory gap”.
He shows pictures of his mother on his tablet. He usually turns emotional when he sees the pictures of his parents. They trigger painful memories of a tragic event that happened some 9 years ago.
The parents of Nooky, Celina “Ka Jo” Palma and Prudencio “Ka Dindo” Calubid – both involved in the leftist movement – are desaparecidos, or victims of enforced disappearances.
Ka Jo, along with Ka Dindo – who is a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant for the peace process – Ariel Beloy, Antonio Lacno, and Gloria Soco, were reportedly abducted by gun-wielding men, believed to be military. They were forcibly taken along Maharlika Highway, at the boundary of Quezon Province and Camarines Norte. They came from Metro Manila and were on their way to an undisclosed place in Bicol.
Nooky was in Bacolod when his parents were abducted. He learned about the abduction from his brother, who was in Manila that time. His brother learned about it from Lacno, who was able to escape their captors. It was from Lacno that they learned about their parents’ torture, and how their mother endured the pain inflicted upon her.
The last time Nooky saw his mother was during the Christmas break of 2005. The last conversation he had with his mother was an argument. He never got the chance to say sorry.
"Sorry." It's the one thing he regrets not having said to his mother. It's the one thing he wants to say if he ever sees his mother again.
He gets teary-eyed when he says this. He confesses there are also times when he gets emotional when song lyrics trigger connections with the most tragic event of his life.
The hit single “Breaking Free” from the High School Musical, a popular song during the year his parents were taken, triggers such response:
“Rising 'till it lifts us up
So every one can see
We're breaking free
Sometimes, these songs also give him hope, that one day, he’ll again see his parents; that one day, they’ll be able to escape their captors, like Lacno.
Ironically, all his memories about his mother, about his parents, are directed toward that tragedy. It seems he has built an emotional wall to forget the pain, a wall that perhaps relegated even joyful memories to the recesses of his mind.
He sought out his parents’ comrades, colleagues, and friends, to help him piece together, the secret lives that Ka Jo and Ka Dindo lived, the secret life that was shielded from them as children. It also through their collective memory that Nooky tries to piece together the missing pieces of the time when his parents lived far from him and his two siblings.
Nooky’s parents actually prepared them for this. They said this day may come. But nothing can prepare them from this experience. Nooky likens it to a dagger that has been thrust into his body and has been embedded ever since. The pain just remains.
He says his mother may be dead. His father, too. But he still hopes they may still be alive. At this point, he just wants closure. – Rappler.com